© 2023 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Main Banner Background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Sign up for BPR's Weekly Update enews

Independent Monitor Over HCA Hears Concerns From Cashiers Community

Lilly Knoepp
Cashiers residents looked to the new CEO of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Tom Neal for answers during the meeting.

The independent monitor hired to ensure HCA Healthcare follows through on agreements it made when purchasing Mission Health held its first public meeting Tuesday evening.  BPR was at the Cashiers-Glenville Rec Center, which was full of concerned residents.

Tom Urban and Ron Winters from Gibbins Advisors lead the discussion. Winters started out with the basics: 

“Let me go into the commitments that HCA made under the asset purchase agreement. There are four big categories: Retaining services at the hospitals…”

 “Really?!” You hear in the crowd from the crowd.  

Credit Lilly Knoepp
Pam Kerr was among the Cashiers residents who voiced concerns that HCA has reduced services in town since taking over Mission Health in February 2019.

Resident Pam Kerr couldn’t contain herself.  During the question and answer section she explained: 

“The services at the hospital have been cut back. They don’t have anyone full time most of the time,” says Kerr. 

Kerr says that she was a part of a group that tried to get primary care physician Dr. Tom Duncan to stay after Mission was sold. He retired in September. She says they also took their concerns directly to HCA. 

Tom Neal, who started as CEO of Highlands Cashiers Hospital in December, was also on hand to field questions. 

“Access to primary care is really critical and it’s one of our primary objectives,” says Neal.He confirmed that right now it takes 1-2 weeks to book an appointment in Cashiers. 

 Neal announced that a new doctor has just been hired full-time to come to the Cashiers clinic, but Dr. Dewy Todd Detar won’t start until May.

For many in the room, 4 more months is a long time wait for full time care.

These are the types of concerns Gibbins says it will pass along to HCA and compile into a report.  Comments can also anonymously be left on its website.  Here’s the full list ofservices that HCA promised to continue to provide. 

 Public meetings continue tonight in Highlands and Thursday afternoon in Franklin. The week of February 10 there will be meetings held in Asheville, Brevard, Marion and Burnsville

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.